IRS targeting White House enemies: So what else is new?
June 11, 2013 § Leave a comment
FOR THE SAKE OF argument, let’s accept the defense advanced by Obama (and every president in a similar situation since Truman, it seems) that it’s just impossible to know or control what one’s employees are up to. Bad, bad bureaucrats! Always sneaking around and getting into trouble behind our backs. When politicians say this, it leads us to conclude that either
a) The politician is dangerously incompetent as a manager;
b) The government is dangerously ungovernable, and therefore, needs to be drastically slashed in size and power so that it can be responsibly managed, or
c) Both a) and b).
Anyway, let’s talk about every one being shocked, shocked! that such things go on in Washington. Who knew?Except any one who’s paid attention knows the IRS easily can be, and is, used politically.
Hell, over 130 years ago, when the notion of taxing individual incomes in peacetime was just that — a notion — a man often quoted here warned against such folly:
The object at which [a graduated income tax] aims, the reduction or prevention of immense concentrations of wealth, is good; but this means involves the employment of a large number of officials clothed with inquisitorial powers; temptations to bribery, and perjury, and all other means of evasion, which beget a demoralization of opinion, and put a premium upon unscrupulousness and a tax upon conscience; and, finally, just in proportion as the tax accomplishes its effect, a lessening in the incentive to the accumulation of wealth, which is one of the strong forces of industrial progress.
Events have borne out Henry George’s prediction. In recent years, we could look back to the Clinton presidency. The Obama administration and the general zeitgeist have been largely a replay of the Clinton administration in several ways, and the use of IRS as political thugs is one of them.
In the Clinton days, the target wasn’t called the Tea Party; it was called the Republican Revolution, the Patriot movement, the “Far Right,” conservative media organizations, and private citizens who posed threats to the Clinton’s political fortunes. After Paula Jones sued Clinton for sexual harrassment, she found herself not only targeted by a media smear campaign (like several other women who came forth with similar stories), but slapped with an IRS audit on top of that. Elizabeth Ward Gracen, too, came forth saying she’d had an affair with Bill Clinton, and “received threats warning her not to talk about it before she too ended up receiving an audit notice,” writes Jack Minor of WorldNetDaily. (This fact — plus the fact that many of the Tea Party groups targeted by Obama’s IRS are led by women — puts a very strange light on the repeated Democrat accusations that the right has been waging a “war on women.”)
Back in the ’90s, the reliably Republican talker Rush Limbaugh was the biggest mouth, but he wasn’t the biggest threat. Limbaugh’s criticism was strictly on partisan lines, meaning he could always be dismissed and thus could never unite the American people behind any agenda; all he could do was keep up the cozy divided-and-conquered status quo game the Establishment needed to retain its power. The real threats were the independent activists and media organizations whose discontent crossed party lines. The king of the independent media in those days was Chuck Harder , and it was he and his organization who were singled out for the most brutal IRS attack.
Harder and his wife started a national radio network and not-for-profit organization from their garage in White Springs, Florida, in 1989. For several heady years in the early-to-mid ’90s, the People’s Radio Network (PRN) functioned as the real NPR — one that didn’t talk down to the public but actually invited the public to converse on the public’s airwaves.
As a college student, I listened to PRN whenever I could, via a Chicago Heights station (and garnered a lot of material for my own column in my college newspaper).
PRN didn’t run whispery-talking pseudointellectuals and long, boring “personal narratives” where illegal immigrants or irrelevant people recollect their childhoods. Harder & Co. made life a lot harder for both the outgoing Bush administration and their business partners, the Clintonistas — exposing the full range of their crimes and shady dealings both in Arkansas and in the White House.
At its peak, PRN programming — notably, Harder’s flagship program “For the People” — was heard on 300 outlets nationwide, including one in Washington, D.C. itself, as well as satellite TV and international shortwave. By 1996, if memory serves, all programming was streaming online as well.
In light of the above, it must be entirely a coincidence that immediately after Clinton’s election in 1992, the IRS came to camp out in Harder’s office — and for eighteen years, never went away.
By 1994 and 1995, America was about to boil over. A populist brushfire had been kindled amongst a wide-ranging segment of the populace, ranging across the contrived political spectrum. The pro-labor left was angry about the cramming through of NAFTA and corporate globalist policies; while much of the so-called far right was angry at the same policies, but focused more on the loss of national sovereignty abroad and personal freedoms at home — as well as the perception of increased hostility of the federal government against its own citizens, such as the Weaver family in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and the Christians in Waco. With the rise of alternative media venues, word was beginning to get out about government drug smuggling and other sordidness besmirching the carefully cultivated, shiny, happy “family values” image of the Reagan-Bush years. With “left” and “right” comparing notes and substantially converging, it was clear the Clinton neoliberal team needed help, fast.
The cavalry came in on April 19, 1995, when a federal building in Oklahoma City blew up and two United States Army veterans, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, were blamed.
Clinton and his surrogates on the controlled left, had their grand opportunity. They immediately seized OKC and with all their might used it to cudgel any critic — whether the Wall Street Journal, Rush Limbaugh, the National Rifle Association or Chuck Harder — with all their might, labeling them sinister “far-right extremists.” Contrary to the facts, they spread the propaganda that McVeigh and Nichols were militia members (they weren’t; militia groups had rejected them, suspecting them of actually being federal provocateurs); that they allegedly fed their “hate” by listening to “far-right talk radio”; and that constitutionalists, gun-rights advocates, alternative media people, conservatives, evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, and any other group that had some problem with Clinton administration policies, were somehow associated with or responsible for a “vast right-wing conspiracy” that would carry out terrorist bombings. We now know, of course, that the truth about OKC is very nearly the opposite of what the Clintonistas claimed.
The People’s Radio Network and its contributors were at the forefront in the OKC investigation; Harder and other hosts hammered away daily at the inconsistencies in the government story, and aired new facts and new sources, later compiled into the book “Death Trap: Oklahoma City.”
However, the Clintonistas’ slanderous propaganda barrage did strike a serious blow to the network’s financial support, forcing it to seek outside financing in an ill-advised business deal that turned out to be a swindle — perhaps even a Clinton-orchestrated takedown — involving the corrupt United Auto Workers union.
After the UAW muscled in, it muscled Harder off his own network and partially reneged on the $3 million buyout they’d agreed to pay him in just such an instance. The labor-monopoly organization also began firing workers, and — in the most appalling irony — fired longtime producer David Hand for attempting to organize a union.
It was made clear to workers that UAW’s mission was not the founding mission of advocating “America First” policies and made-in-America products, but to re-elect the Clintons to the White House using the shadiest methods.
In addition to these thug tactics that the worst union-busting corporate lawyers would applaud, the Clinton-surrogate labor monopoly reneged on promised incentives for its sales force, misled employees about benefits, and dictated programming and viewpoints to on-air talent.
Before long the once 300-station network — renamed United Broadcasting Network under UAW management — dwindled to 60. Finally, management filed bankruptcy for the network in July 1997. The great friend of the workers, UAW, had squashed and downsized its own labor forced and deliberately bankrupted its own operation, in two and a half short years.
The whole grim story is told at the following sites: The original WorldNetDaily story from 1998, and a follow-up from 2010 reporting the still-ongoing 18-year audit — surely a national record. Michael Munday also did a great job following the story for years in Insight Magazine.
Finally, here’s a C-SPAN simulcast of a “For the People” broadcast from the fall of 1993, where Harder and Ralph Nader break down what’s wrong with the NAFTA deal.